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Mastercard Moves Beyond Plastic With New Bets in Healthcare, Supply Chain, and Fintech

October 27, 2019, 7:30 PM UTC
Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As part of its quest to push its business beyond the realm of electronic payments, Mastercard has unveiled a series of initiatives targeting an array of industries and services—including new platforms geared toward the healthcare and fintech sectors, and a blockchain-enabled partnership designed to increase the transparency of companies’ supply chains.

The initiatives are part of a concentrated effort by the payment services giant to “broaden the scope of what we do, and who we do it with,” Craig Vosburg, Mastercard’s president of North America, told Fortune

That strategy is focused around “the notion of Mastercard being [about] more than just cards”—with Vosburg citing the company’s recent acquisition of European payment services firm Nets among investments aimed at “expanding the means by which we’re capable of moving money.”

Yet Mastercard’s newest slate of programs go beyond mere payments and financial transactions, and look to address a range of logistical concerns for businesses and consumers alike via tech-enabled offerings.

The new healthcare initiative, called Mastercard Healthcare Solutions, is a suite of products aimed at making life easier for healthcare providers. That includes payments technology that helps streamline patients’ billings; fraud detection and prevention software enabled by artificial intelligence and machine learning; and data security capabilities meant to mitigate cybersecurity threats.

On the fintech front, Mastercard has launched a new platform called Accelerate that’s designed to serve as a end-to-end solution for the fintech firms that rely on it services—enabling such clients to fast-track the issuance of cards and more easily integrate with Mastercard’s array of services and technology.

“We recognized the importance of serving the [fintech] sector on its own terms and making our capabilities more easily accessible for them,” Vosburg said. The Accelerate platform is designed to be the main “point-of-entry” for fintech clients, as far as allowing them to “implement our technology, get access to other partners within the Mastercard network, and move at the pace that digital [startups] want to move—which is fast,” he added.

And through a partnership with supply chain visibility firm Envisible, Mastercard’s blockchain-enabled “Provenance Solution” will power Envisible’s supply chain traceability system, which enables businesses and consumers to keep track of where the products they buy, sell, and consume come from. The technology allows Envisible clients like food cooperative Topco to better track the origins of the seafood sold at its stores and ensure that it is ethically and sustainably sourced.

Deborah Barta, Mastercard’s senior vice president of innovation and startup engagement, said the blockchain-powered platform can also be deployed across industries ranging from luxury goods to minerals, while Vosburg cited its potential in detecting and rooting out counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Similar blockchain-enabled, supply chain transparency offerings are provided by the likes of IBM and Microsoft.

Vosburg added that Mastercard continues to experiment with blockchain technology across various business applications, citing more than 100 blockchain-related patents filed by the company.

Both Mastercard and its rival Visa have placed heightened emphasis on technology recently in an effort to keep up with a rapidly evolving financial services environment. Last month, both firms announced that they had made “strategic investments” in fintech unicorn Plaid—with the credit card giants looking to leverage and parlay Plaid’s technological capabilities across their own businesses.

Mastercard is set to report its financial results for the third quarter of 2019 on Tuesday. The company’s stock closed at $270.19 per share on Friday—up 42% since the start of the year.

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